Isaiah JacksonWendy Davee Award for Service Recipient 2020

    Isaiah Jackson is a scholar, writer, activist, teacher, and embodied healer. Their work stems from a deeply personal quest to assist in the healing of generation upon generation of personal and cultural trauma. As a queer, trans-masculine, mixed-race individual, Isaiah’s identity has been shaped and contoured by various intersecting systems of privilege and oppression. This experience has served as a continuous source of embodied research into the roots of violence and oppression and illuminated pathways towards healing and resilience. After having survived their own traumatic childhood, Isaiah felt deeply compelled to contribute to a more just and hospitable world by creating a palpable change in the lives of others, and for this reason, began working with youth, with the hope that by raising new generations of humans more socially and emotionally literate, they could help to slow down, shed light on, and heal the vicious cycles of pain that continue to plague human existence.

    Isaiah’s professional journey began as a preschool teacher, where they became fascinated with the role of play in the development of social and emotional skills. Isaiah spent hours upon hours on the floor participating in the play of children and observing the many ways children use their bodies to negotiate boundaries, initiate connection, and communicate safety or danger to one another.  Isaiah noted that as language acquisition sets in, the value of emotional connection diminishes, and the emphasis becomes more narrowly focused on competition, the mastery of knowledge, and social dominance.

    Isaiah brought these observations with them into the Depth Psychology and Somatic Studies program at Pacifica and there began the scholarly studies and research that would provide them with the theoretical foundation needed to articulate and refine their vision of a somatically oriented social-emotional curriculum for youth and their caregivers. As they move into the dissertation phase of their doctorate, Isaiah hopes to contribute foundational research on the efficacy of somatically oriented social-emotional interventions for youth. Isaiah continues to apply this work in various educational and mental health arenas, advocating for stronger and more consistent social-emotional learning in public schools, teaching social and emotional skills to underserved youth and their caregivers, and providing counseling services to the LGBTQ+ community of Portland, Oregon.

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